Kelly and Kathy were sitting in their car focused on the front entrance of the hotel. Kelly said, “How are we going to make sure the Professor doesn’t leave by another exit?”
“With two people we can’t. But, being the smart operatives we are, we have located his car. I can see it from here. It looks like he’s playing the role of a well-to-do businessman. If I’m right, he’s locked himself into that role. He wouldn’t be slipping out another entrance into another parked car or going out an entrance to the rear parking lot and walking around the front to the overnight valet section. Hotel people would notice that. Not in keeping with his cover. A good cover is necessary but it also has some built-in problems, such as required behavior. Knowing the behavior required allows hunters like us to predict some of the target’s actions. Unless he suspects some hostile group knows where he is, he will not leave the hotel dressed as a cowboy or a golf-playing tourist from Minnesota. So be patient and watch the front door. Of course, we don’t want to miss Mr. Hankins’ departure. If he doesn’t come out in the next 20 minutes, you will have to check if he’s still in the bar. We also have his car in sight.”
“What if Hankins leaves and kills some young woman?”
“This is a tough business. We have to try to prevent the greatest threat. And right now that’s the Professor. He’s already killed more Americans than Hankins ever will. If the car bombs had succeeded, dozens or more could have been killed or badly hurt. We were lucky that time. We need to be a step ahead of the Professor. We don’t need to build a legal case against him. He’s an enemy combatant trying to kill us. If we can pin him down anywhere, he’ll be picked up, interrogated, and imprisoned or executed under the jurisdiction of a military tribunal. All we have to do is keep him located until he can be grabbed. No one will be reading the Professor any rights. There now, do you have any more short questions that need long answers? If not, go check on our pervert.”
Kelly was barely in the lobby when Kathy saw her come out and hurry back to the car. She opened the car door and said, “Hankins was paying his bill. Look for him to come out any minute now.”
“Okay! When he drives away, we’re going inside. I want to have a drink in the booth he just left. You go first and make that happen.”
When Hankins’ tail lights disappeared going back toward Georgetown, Kelly and Kathy walked into the lounge. Kelly asked the hostess for a booth and pointed to the one near the back of the lounge. Once they ordered drinks, a soda and bitters for Kathy and a draft light beer for Kelly, she asked, “Why are we sitting here?”
“Two things. I want to see what he could see sitting where I am now, facing away from the entrance the way you said Hankins was facing. I want to check the seating area, just to be sure he didn’t leave a note, mark or signal of some kind for the Professor. When the waitress left, I checked the underside of the table and the edges of the bench.”
“I didn’t see you do that.”
“You weren’t supposed to, nor was anyone else. I don’t see how Hankins could have seen the Professor or the Professor him. And nothing was left in this booth. I doubt Hankins used the men’s room. You would have seen him. So now I’m reassured this was a coincidence, not a scheduled meeting of any kind. Also I assume Hankins did not use a cell or hotel phone while he was here. So now let’s get situated so we can watch the lobby for the Professor.”
Just after midnight Kathy signaled for the bill. She explained to Kelly that it was unlikely the Professor would be coming down to the lobby to meet anyone, and they were too exposed to hang out any longer in the lounge. Back in the car, Kathy said she would take the first watch and for Kelly to get in the backseat and get some sleep. If any cops came by when Kelly was on watch to wake her, and she would use her badge and tell them they were okay.
Kathy’s cell vibrated at 6:30 AM. It was the head of the unit Frank sent to take over the coverage and taking of the Professor. She agreed to meet them right away in the Piccolo Coffee Shop near the hotel.
They had pictures and a brief on the Professor from Frank. Kathy briefed them on the Professor’s car and its location. She didn’t know the room number or what name he was using, only that he was probably on the fifth floor. Kathy asked if she and her partner were needed any longer. The team chief said no, they would take over from here. When Kathy asked if he wanted to go over his plan, he acted as if she wasn’t cleared and told her she could go now. They had to move quickly.
Kathy and Kelly were on their way back to Georgetown within the next five minutes. The Professor, following a lifelong habit of getting up at five AM and was now enjoying a cup of dark French Roast coffee on the terrace off his sitting room. His one light bag was packed. This morning he planned to leave the Cadillac CTS in the valet parking and take the VW Passat he kept stashed in the shopping center parking lot in the next block. From long practice he constantly scanned his surroundings. He was just finishing his most recent check of the front of the hotel, when he received a cell call. The caller told him to leave immediately, a team of counter terrorists knew where he was and would soon surround the building. Looking from his balcony, he saw a group of young men in suits come out of a coffee shop and walk directly toward the front of the hotel. In all his checking of the hotel environment, he had never seen a group like that. They surely weren’t tourists and, if they were well-dressed businessmen, they would not have had breakfast or even coffee in a place like that. No, trust his instincts and his inside source. It had been a few years, but he knew his spy was dependable. He had used this source for years.
Without another thought, he picked up his small bag and walked down the back stairs and across the back of the hotel parking lot to the shopping mall and drove off in his VW. In his business, there was no such thing as over-reacting. There was only being alive or being dead. Always take the safest action and forget convenience or inconvenience.